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Resources for Activists & Organizers
This section provides tools to help activists and community organizers.
Helpful resource outlining legal rights and tips for individuals participating in protests and marchers
Quick links for activists, organizers, and journalists
A reflection by Vina Kay, Executive Director of the Minneapolis-based organization Voices for Racial Justice
A six-session discussion guide to help foster meaningful dialogue to examine gaps among racial and ethnic groups and create institutional and policy change
Types of protests and demonstrations
Protest is a part of our democracy. Below are some common actions used to protest. This list is by no means exhaustive and activists around the world use these and other creative actions to support their causes. Strategies can also evolve with the times and shifting political and social realities. Strategy and intention are important things to keep in mind when planning any action. While, protests may occur suddenly in immediate and urgent response to a situation, most protests are actually planned in advance.
Social media is a great tool to promote demonstrations. Be sure to always include information about the type of demonstration you're having, rights of protestors, tips for what to do in the event of law enforcement crackdown or counter-protest. Be sure to consider if your protest action is responsive to the needs, realities, and/or issues of your local community (even when it is a solidarity action for events that may have happened in a different part of the country or world).
If you're just participating and not involved in planning a protest, be sure to do a little prep work before you attend and have a sense of what your own personal intentions and limits are. Expect the best scenario for your participation in the protest, but also prepare for the worst. Here are a few links to help you prepare to participate in a protest.
A march involves a group of activists walking through a public space in support of their cause. Marches can involve chanting messages, music, banners, and signs. There can also be 'silent' marches in tight formation with evocative banners and signs.
A rally is usually part of a demonstration where activists march through a space or route and end in a gathering place to "rally" by listening to speakers, testimonials, a call for action, and chanting.
At a teach-in, attendees can sit in on forums, discussion panels, lectures, and free debates about a topic. Typically, controversial and under-reported topics are chosen for a teach-in with the goal of increasing awareness about these issues and encouraging people to act on them. They are usually organized in public or community spaces and local experts are invited to present and engage participants. The first teach-ins occured on college campus in the 1960s to protest the Vietnam War.
A sit-in was a protest strategy used by the 1960s Civil Rights Movement to defy segregation laws in spaces like "white only" lunch counters and restaurants. During a sit-in, activists take up or occupy a space where they are not typically permitted to be and nonviolently resist attempts to remove them from the space. Today, sit-ins may involve occupying a space like a government building, a police precint, or other instititional spaces as a form of protest until demands are heard or addressed.
DIE-IN or LIE-IN
In a die-in or lie-in particpants simulate being "dead" in a particular public or community space to mark lives lost to violence, indifference, and apathy. Die-ins became a popular protest action in 2014 and 2015 after the shooting deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. They were also used by the LGBTQIA community during the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and in anti-Iraq War protests in the early 2000s.
A vigil is a gathering to mourn and remember lives lost in a local, national, or international tragedy. They may take place outdoors or indoors in a community or public space. Often political vigils end in a call to action to end the root causes of these deaths. There may also be secular or interfaith components with moments of quiet reflection and meditation.
"The Language of The Unheard" & Non-Violence
There is ongoing debate about non-violence vs. violence in the anti-police brutality protests that have swept our nation over the last six years. Below are some resources to help us think through what non-violence may mean for today's movement to end systemic racism and the police brutality that is symptomatic of it. Some of these resources also ask us to challenge the media images and narrative of "riots" and "violent" protesters in describing recent events.
Rev. Martin Luther King: "Riot is the Language of the Unheard" (The Huffington Post)
Understanding the Ferguson Riots as a Symptom of Violence (Wage Non-violence)
Nonviolence As Compliance by Ta-nehisi Coates (The Atlantic)
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